Monday, November 28, 2011

Like a Baby's Iron Grasp

STORY BEHIND THE PHOTO: Picture Praise, 11/28/11

When I was in Kenya, Pastor Francis, the man who started the orphanage where we stayed, told us about a woman, Rose, from his village. He told us her husband was murdered about two years ago during a civil war, leaving Rose with six kids and a mother-in-law to take care of, and a house that was literally falling apart before their very eyes.

We had the chance to help Rose demolish the house that burdened her. We were able to come together with others from surrounding homes to construct a new and safe home for her and her family. While the house was being brought down, one of the girls on my team was holding a neighbor’s baby. Another girl on our team saw the baby and couldn’t resist the temptation of playing with her. The baby reached out for my teammate’s finger and grabbed hold with the iron grip that babies have. I stared for a moment at how precious it looked. I reminded myself that it would look even better through the lens of my camera and snapped the photo.

Later that night lying in bed, I was looking through all the photos I had taken. I paused at this one. It was such a simple photo and a small part of my trip, but that did not suppress the excitement inside me. I looked forward to showing my friends and family back home.

photographer: Kelsey Lane, USA. "I am a 16 year-old who has always loved living in Denver, Colorado. I am a cheerleader and a junior in high school at Front Range Christian School. Every year, my youth pastor offers the Kenya trip to whomever feels called to go. I asked God if I should go, thinking there wouldn’t be a reply, but there was. And it wasn’t a very specific answer; God said, 'Go to Kenya, I want to show you something.' I asked Him again and again throughout the following weeks and each time I got the same response. So I told my youth pastor I wanted to go and started fundraising."

Monday, November 21, 2011

Picture-Postcard Perfect: Machu Picchu

STORY BEHIND THE PHOTO: Picture Praise, 11/21/11

I spent a week on the river with Amazon Medical Missions, traveling to small villages to set up clinics, distribute clothing and drill a well. We shared the Gospel, prayed with every family and washed their feet. I had a blast teaching little children to brush their teeth and doing fluoride treatments. The people were beautiful, and a pod of pink Amazon River dolphins spent a day playing alongside our boat.

I am blessed with a family that prays for me as faithfully every day as they do when I am on a mission and God’s grace was abundant as I spent a week touring Peru on my own. I fulfilled a lifelong dream and visited Machu Picchu, taking the train from Cuzco, then the bus to the top of the mountain. You are not allowed to board the bus without rain gear, as it rains every day, and many people see the ruins only through fog and mist.

I arrived at the top just as the sun broke through and the view was picture-postcard perfect: grass greener than green; grazing llamas; Andean condors and snow on the mountains in the distance. This remote Incan stronghold is one of history’s great mysteries and many find it mystic and spiritual. To me, it felt familiar, as though I’d been there before. I’m grateful to God for the opportunity to see it, and the beautiful light that allowed me to enjoy and capture the moment.

photographer: Susan De Graaf, USA. Susan lives in a Norman Rockwell small town in Wisconsin and works in a busy Neonatal Intensive Care Unit. Widowed when her daughter was tiny, she takes the most joy in having raised(and homeschooled) her to be a mighty woman of God in her own right. They spent a summer at an orphanage in Mexico, have done short term missions trips together and separately, and have had the privilege of visiting Christ in women's prisons. Susan loves to travel, read, walk and learn!

Monday, November 14, 2011

I Look Forward to the Day

STORY BEHIND THE PHOTO: Picture Praise, 11/14/11

If you stand atop the Citadel, amid young boys flying kites and dodging the ancient pillars of Rabbath Ammon and Philadelphia, you can discern the clear divisions of modern Amman on the adjacent hills.

To the east, Palestinian and Iraqi refugees live in overcrowded, stacked apartments after fleeing from recent wars. To the west, sit high-rise buildings and affluent neighborhoods housing well-to-do Arab families, while still in another direction is a terraced hill inhabited by poverty stricken Jordanians.

Hospitable families in each neighborhood have opened their doors to me, welcoming me with kisses and food. They have shared their heartaches, their burdens, their losses... that often came at the hand of 'other' communities and 'other' Arab nationalities in the city. Each neighborhood, each people group, and each home carries a distinct burden.

Yet through their brokenness, Christ is revealing Himself to seekers in these neighborhoods: to the oppressed and angry as the Man of Peace, to the wounded as the Comforter and Repairer of Broken Walls, and to the empty as the Giver of Life.

I look forward to the day when the diversity of the city will no longer separate and divide, but become the radiance of Christ's Body.

Monday, November 7, 2011

Creative and Colorful Creator

STORY BEHIND THE PHOTO: Picture Praise, 11/07/11

In June, my missionary family from "EurAsia" had a reunion. We all went to Germany for a time of refreshment, relaxation and rekindling of love for one another and those whom God has called us to serve. A time for sightseeing was also in the plan. Part of the team went to a bird park. It was a great adventure to be up close and personal with birds that otherwise would not be seen. There were birds from all around the world.

At the "parrot station," a parrot would walk up your arm and sit on your shoulder if you stretched your arm out to him. Some of the parrots were very crafty as they would either chew a shirt collar or purse strap. I thoroughly enjoyed watching the MKs be daring enough to allow a parrot to perch on them. Not all of the birds were photogenic so to catch some good shots made it all worthwhile.

I rejoice in the creativity of the Creator and the incredible color that He used in His creation. Parrots must really bring Him joy because their colors are so vibrant.

photographer: Jayne Russell, Ukraine. Jayne serves with SEND International in Ukraine and directs the Bachelor of Christian Education and Women's Ministry programs at Kremenchuk Regional Bible College.


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